Explore the Family Name King

The meaning of King

1. English: nickname from Middle English king ‘king’ (Old English cyning, cyng), perhaps acquired by someone with kingly qualities or as a pageant name by someone who had acted the part of a king or had been chosen as the master of ceremonies or ‘king’ of an event such as a tournament, festival or folk ritual. In North America, the surname King has absorbed several European cognates and equivalents with the same meaning, for example German König (see Koenig) and Küng, French Roy, Slovenian, Croatian, or Serbian Kralj, Polish Krol. It is also very common among African Americans. It is also found as an artificial Jewish surname. 2. English: occasionally from the Middle English personal name King, originally an Old English nickname from the vocabulary word cyning, cyng ‘king’. 3. Irish: adopted for a variety of names containing the syllable rí (which means ‘king’ in Irish). 4. Native American: loose translation into English (and shortening) of a personal name such as Cheyenne Vehoeso ‘Little Chief’, which is from a diminutive of veho ‘chief’. See also Chief. 5. Chinese: variant Romanization of the surname 金, possibly based on the Foochow dialect spoken in Fuzhou in Fujian province, see Jin 1. 6. Chinese: Cantonese form of the surnames 景, 荊, 敬 and 經, also variant Romanization of the surnames 井, see Jing 1–4 and 6. 7. Chinese: possibly from Cantonese form of the Chinese name 敬 (meaning ‘esteem, respect’), a monosyllabic personal name, or part of a disyllabic personal name of some early Chinese immigrants in the US. History: As a name of Swiss German origin, originally spelled König or Koenig (see 1 above), the surname King is quite common among the American Mennonites. They are descendants of several immigrants who settled in PA (in the 18th century) and in OH (in the first half of the 19th century).

Dictionary of American Family Names, 2nd edition, © Oxford University Press, 2022.

How common is the last name King in the United States?

According to the data from the Decennial U.S. Census, the popularity of the surname King has seen a small increase between 2000 and 2010. In 2000, King was the 35th most common surname, with a count of approximately 439,000. By 2010, it had moved up one place to become the 34th most popular surname, with the number of people with this surname growing by roughly 6.02 percent to around 465,000. However, despite its rise in rank, the proportion of people with this surname per 100,000 decreased slightly by -3.04.

Proportion per 100k162.73157.78-3.04%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name King

The Decennial U.S. Census data also provides an interesting look at the ethnic identity associated with the surname King. Between 2000 and 2010, there was a significant increase in those who identify as Asian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic, with a growth rate of 39.77 and 57.41 percent respectively. Those identifying as two or more races also increased by 35.09 percent. The percentage of people with the King surname who identified as White decreased slightly during the decade, from 72.80 to 70.16 percent. Meanwhile, the percentage identifying as Black grew modestly, from 22.02 to 22.76 percent, and there was negligible change in those identifying as American Indian and Alaskan Native.

Two or More Races1.71%2.31%35.09%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.88%1.23%39.77%
American Indian and Alaskan Native0.97%0.98%1.03%

King ancestry composition

23andMe computes an ancestry breakdown for each customer. People may have ancestry from just one population or they may have ancestry from several populations. The most commonly-observed ancestry found in people with the surname King is British & Irish, which comprises 51.8% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (22.0%) and Eastern European (3.9%). Additional ancestries include Scandinavian, Nigerian, Italian, Spanish & Portuguese, and Ashkenazi Jewish.

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British & Irish51.8%
French & German22.0%
Eastern European3.9%

Possible origins of the surname King

Your DNA provides clues about where your recent ancestors may have lived. Having many distant relatives in the same location suggests that you may all share common ancestry there. Locations with many distant relatives can also be places where people have migrated recently, such as large cities. If a large number of individuals who share your surname have distant relatives in a specific area, it could indicate a connection between your surname and that location, stemming from either recent ancestral ties or migration.

Based on 23andMe data, people with last name King have recent ancestry locations in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Ireland.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Merseyside, United Kingdom81.70%
Greater London, United Kingdom81.70%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom81.60%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom81.50%
West Yorkshire, United Kingdom81.20%

What King haplogroups can tell you

Haplogroups are genetic population groups that share a common ancestor on either your paternal or maternal line. These paternal and maternal haplogroups shed light on your genetic ancestry and help tell the story of your family.

The top paternal haplogroup of people with the surname King is R-CTS241, which is predominantly found among people with European ancestry. Haplogroup R-CTS241 is descended from haplogroup R-M343. Other common haplogroups include R-P311 and R-U152, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Smith, Thompson, Brown, Taylor, Wilson, Young, White, Green, Johnson, Clark.

The most common maternal haplogroups of people with King surname are: H1, T2b, H. These most commonly trace back to individuals of European ancestry.

kingPaternal Haplogroup Origins R-M343

Your maternal lineage may be linked to Marie Antoinette

Because it is so dominant in the general European population, haplogroup H also appears quite frequently in the continent's royal houses. Marie Antoinette, an Austrian Hapsburg who married into the French royal family, inherited the haplogroup from her maternal ancestors. So did Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose recorded genealogy traces his female line to Bavaria. Scientists also discovered that famed 16th century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus traced his maternal lineages to haplogroup H.

Maternal Haplo Image

What do people with the surname King have in common?

Spoiler alert: it's complicated. People with the same last name are usually no more genetically similar than a randomly sampled group of people from the same population. That said, people with the same surname are more likely to have similar ancestries than randomly sampled individuals. The reason is the tendency of people with similar cultural or geographical backgrounds to preferentially mate with one another. That's why people who share a surname may be more likely to share traits and tendencies in common than people within the general population. Check out the percentages below to see the prevalences of tastes, habits, and traits of people with your surname compared with prevalences among 23andMe users.



Chocolate Ice Cream

Prefers chocolate flavored ice cream over other flavors.

"King" Surname 41.7%

23andMe Users 41.3%




When sounds made by others, like the sound of chewing or yawning, provoke strong emotional reactions in an individual.

"King" Surname 27.6%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"King" Surname 23.5%

23andMe Users 21.1%




A severe headache characterized by intense pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and often accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

"King" Surname 17.6%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name King?

The short answer is that, if there is an association between surname and health, it's usually more about your ancestry than your name. Individuals with a given surname are no more genetically similar than the general population but often have similar ancestries. The populations of people associated with those shared ancestries often have sets of genetic variations, also known as alleles, in common. Some of those alleles are associated with a greater likelihood of developing certain diseases.

Disease variant frequency by ancestry

Disease allele frequencies in populations associated with the surname King are shown below. Important Note: not everyone with a disease allele will develop these health condition

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Y402H variant

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible vision loss among older adults. The disease results in damage to the central part of the retina (the macula), impairing vision needed for reading, driving, or even recognizing faces. The 23andMe Health + Ancestry DNA test includes the two most common variants associated with an increased risk of developing the condition: the Y402H variant in the CFH gene and the A69S variant in the ARMS2 gene. Learn more about Age-Related Macular Degeneration

British & Irish 62.1%

23andMe Users 57.2%